Karl du Fresne on the media’s fascination with Nicky Hager’s rights while ignoring mine

Karl du Fresne and I do not share much in common, but we are at least free thinkers and outspoken critics in important matters.

He writes about the media’s fascination with protecting Nicky Hager’s rights but ignoring mine.

[Bryce Edwards] seems to suggest that because I wrote a column back in July arguing that Hager is not a journalist in the commonly understood definition of the word, I might not share the media concern about the apparent overriding of his right to privacy by the police and Westpac.

Not so. It’s one thing to dispute Hager’s claim to be a journalist; quite another to approve of the police delving into his private affairs without first having to satisfy a court that it’s justified.  In fact I see no connection. Objecting to the way Hager’s rights have been violated has nothing to do with whether he’s a journalist. The police action, and Westpac’s apparent complicity, would be just as obnoxious if he were a gravedigger or hairdresser.

As Edwards acknowledges, I said in my July column that Hager does some important work. I wrote that he could teach journalists a few things about uncovering information that powerful people would prefer to keep hidden. I also said his books made an important contribution to informed debate on issues such as state surveillance and honesty in government.   
I stand by all that. My concerns about Hager are essentially twofold: first, that he uses the label “journalist”, with all its connotations of even-handedness and impartiality, to disguise his true purpose, which is that of an ideological crusader; and second, that the publication of his Dirty Politics book was carefully timed to coincide with a general election, in the clear hope that it would cause maximum political damage. But neither of those concerns could be construed as endorsement of any disregard for his rights or violation of his privacy.

I do, however, share Cameron Slater’s view that the reaction to the latest disclosures exposes a gaping double standard. Where was the media outrage when Slater’s email account was hacked?

There’s a difference, of course, in that this time it’s an agency of the state that’s digging into someone’s personal affairs. That’s infinitely more alarming than the actions of a rogue private hacker. But Slater is right to point out that the hacker, Rawshark, largely escaped media condemnation – as did Hager, who used the information Rawshark obtained.

Rawshark escaped media condemnation because he is well known to the media, they have promoted his causes before and they worked cap in hand with him in an attempt to bring down a government. Their hands are dirty with the association.

I reckon it is more alarming than the state asking legitimately for information, with or without a warrant, but still legitimately asking, that criminals can be courted by political parties and media alike to commission a crime against a journalist because they don’t like his political leanings. That they can then report on that crime and attack unchallenged over their own actions. That is truly more scary…than law abiding state officials trying to actually catch a criminal.

The Media Party have locked step behind Nicky Hager for two reasons. The first is that he is effectively blackmailing them by saying he protected them unless they changed their ways in dealing with me. The second is if Nicky Hager goes down then so do they…for the same reasons.

Until the dirty media are challenged they will continue to do their dirty deeds.


– Karl Du Fresne.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.